By Erin Hassanzadeh

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Pentagon is sending roughly 3,000 American troops to Kabul to help evacuate many of the U.S. Embassy employees there.

This comes as the Taliban continues to gain ground in Afghanistan just before U.S. troops officially withdraw.

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“We believe this is the prudent thing to do given the rapidly deteriorating security situation in and around Kabul,” Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said.

Security is seemingly deteriorating after decades of U.S. involvement.

Mike McElhiney first stepped foot in Afghanistan nearly 20 years ago

“We were the first team to go in and be on the ground consistently in southern Afghanistan after 9/11,” he said.

For him, though he feels it’s time to withdraw, it’s surreal to watch things unravel after he and so many others made incredible sacrifices.

“Basically blew my chest open … I lost my right arm below the elbow which was my dominant arm … 72 or 82 stitches in my face, internal and external,” he said. “Yeah, we did a lot of work and there was a lot of blood and treasure spilled over there.”

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“We are watching the collapse of the Afghan government,” Dipali Mukhopadhyay said. “I think the Taliban’s objective is power and control.”

Mukhopadhyay is a senior expert on Afghanistan for the U.S. Institute of Peace.

She says many experts agree withdrawal was inevitable, but say the way it was done left gaps.

“What I think is really shocking is the irresponsibility of the speed of the withdrawal and the lack of planning for contingencies like this one,” she said.

Now, she says experts will wait to see if Kabul will hold, knowing there will be immediate suffering for the people of Afghanistan.

And questions about what, if anything, the U.S. could have done to prevent this.

“I think the possibilities for Afghanistan becoming again a sanctuary and a safe haven for violent extremists from all over the world is incredibly high,” she said. “That’s a really shocking disappointment of an outcome after 20 years.”

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The Pentagon says full U.S. combat troop withdrawal from Afghanistan is still on track to be completed by Aug. 31.

Erin Hassanzadeh